Coping With Bad Line Calls – The Ugly Side Of Tennis

Coping With Bad Line Calls – The Ugly Side Of Tennis

Bad line calls. You know we’ve all made them at some point. Despite our best efforts, we can’t be right all the time. Even when we make a concerted effort pay close attention and to be fair, it can still happen. I know most players do it completely unintentionally. They make the best call they can at the moment, and we move on. While it can still be frustrating when it happens at crucial moments, this type of mistake doesn’t create ill will on the courts.


But let’s be honest. We’ve all been in matches when we are sure the bitches ladies on the other side of the court are doing it repeatedly and on purpose. And when they make yet another bad line call, we stop and glare at them, completely pissed off, with a look of utter disbelief.



You’re calling that out?


Of course, they’re sure. They have the power to make that call, and they’re sure as hell not changing their minds.

I can’t tell you how many times I or my teammates have been in this situation. I remember an LTS match when we had already done the whole “are you sure?” bit and nothing had changed. I was about one more bad call away from totally losing my shit and for me, that’s saying a lot. I don’t lose my temper often but when I do, stand back. I take a flying leap off of Planet Rational and go directly to Bat Shit Crazy. It’s really not pretty – my family can attest. Anyway, in my last moment of calm, I went to the net and reminded my opponents that if a ball hit a line, it was in fact in.

Now, I’ll never know if it was the twitch in my right eye hinting at impending doom that convinced them to change their tune, or if we just embarrassed them into behaving, but from that point on they called every ball that came near a line in, even the ones that weren’t.

Crisis averted.

Other times, challenging the calls hasn’t alleviated the situation.

Now, while not a course of action that I endorse regularly, in extreme circumstances, we’ve found that calling of few balls out ourselves has shut that crap down pretty quickly. Ladies, this is absolutely NOT part of good sportsmanship in any way, shape or form, but if staying calm and turning the other cheek is not going to happen, I think the passive aggressive move is probably better than a catfight on the court. But that’s just me.

We were in a match several years ago where every ball was being called out, my teammates had challenged the bad calls and still, nothing was changing. Now I’m not saying that a ball can’t be out, but every freaking one? Sorry, no way. One of the pair from my team was on the verge of a meltdown, while the other was handling the situation more calmly. Mrs. Calm and Cool suggested that they call a few balls out to see if they could get the other team to stop. Well, it didn’t take long for the other team to become frustrated. When the inevitable conversation happened at the net, everyone agreed to start calling the balls fairly. Message received. Again, this is by no means my first suggestion on how to handle continuous bad line calls but as a last resort, it can be effective.

More recently, some friends of mine had to deal with this in their own match. Apparently, my friend lobbed the ball deep to her opponent’s court. From her angle, when it hit the court it could have been in or out, she couldn’t tell, but the other team called it out. Here’s the awesome part, not a heartbeat later, a total stranger from the court next to them proceeded to call them on the bad line call.

That was in!”



Their opponents were totally embarrassed, and everyone just stood and looked at each other until the other team offered to play the point over again.

Damn straight, they’re going to play the point over.

Now, it’s unlikely that any of us can expect to have a stranger step in and call someone out on a bad line call regularly, if ever, but in this case, it was a nice show of support. What really bugs me is this, why are people so competitive that they resort to cheating? Now, I’m not talking about the normal circumstances of someone not seeing it perfectly, or misjudging a call occasionally. I’m talking about the times when someone calls the ball before it bounces and then refusing to correct an obvious error. Or those who start acting like the lines are 1cm wide and no ball will ever touch them.

Seriously, none of us are going on the pro tour next season, and the WTA does not have secret scouts out scouring the courts in Singapore, looking at the match results for their next big name to hit the women’s masters scene. And yet, some of us get so competitive that we are unable to call a beautifully placed shot in when a match is on the line. People, worst case – and I mean absolute worst case – you don’t get the fucking bag tag at the awards ceremony. The world will not end, and people will not like or respect you less if you lose a match.

Or, is it having the bragging rights of moving up a division that drives this overly competitive behavior? Maybe that’s it. Ego.

In My Dreams

I’ve often wished that all courts had Hawk-Eye, like at pro matches. Can you even imagine how amazing that would be? We could avoid all those uncomfortable situations and just let the unbiased camera call the lines. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not such a ridiculous dream. There are actually two products that can do this at a much more reasonable price than the Hawk-Eye system. One, marketed towards tennis clubs, is called Play Sight and requires a camera system to be installed around the courts. It’s amazing, but not accessible to your average league player at a public court. The other product is a small device that you strap to any net post. Its called In/Out and it appears to be almost out of beta testing.

I think this might be a game changer for league matches – no pun intended. After watching their promotional video, which I highly encourage you to view, I think I might have heard angels singing.

Oh My God!

I want one.

No, scratch that. I want three. One for each line/court of our league matches.

I think the stress and frustration this would save my team and I would absolutely be worth the investment. I should say upfront, I have no connection to this product other than I desperately want one (or three), and I hope that they get this launched on larger scale ASAP.

But I have a question for you. What would you do it if you came to the court and your opponents had this setup? Would you argue against using it, or would you be happy to accept it’s line calls?

We'd love to hear what you think!